December Pose of the Month 2016

                                          December Pose of the Month 2016

                                                  Utplutih – Sprung Up Pose

This pose is all about determination, no matter how much you want to come down.  This pose uses the power of the charged inner body to sing upwards both physically and energetically.

 IMG 1451

Let’s Practice:

  1. Begin in Padmasana pose.  Place your hands on the floor, with your fingers spread apart in front of your pelvis and about mid thigh.  
  2. Draw your abdomen in strongly and engage your pelvic floor to lift your knees into your chest. 
  3. Inhale as you lean forward into the foundation of the arms.
  4. Press firmly into the arms, engage the legs, draw your abdomen further in.
  5. Keep your breathing slow, steady and deep.
  6. If you cant lift your pelvis off the ground, simply raise your knees into your chest and push your arms into the ground.
  7. Lean forward into the arms.
  8. After ten breaths, jump back into chaturanga and finish your Vinyasa.

November Pose of the Month 2016

November Pose of the Month

Kurmasana – Tortoise Supta Kurmasana – Sleeping Tortoise Pose

This pose is a gateway pose in the Ashtanga series. It is such an amazing posture that tests, strength, stability, and openness of both body and mind. I recently went to Miami to an Ashtanga intensive and became friends with this pose. I‘m still trying to independently get my feet behind my head as you can see in the picture. Anyway, if you are interested in working at this pose, join me sometime in class or practice this in your home practice.  Practice makes Progress..Namaste

Let’s practice:

1.  From Adho Mukha Svanasana ~ Downward Dog – jump or step your feet around your hands as far forward as you can so your thighs hug your shoulders and your torso fits between your thighs.Bend your elbows and allow your hips to sink to the ground, then slide your hands out to the side, palms facing down

2.  Moving into Supta Kurmasana requires that you rotate your hip joints externally while keeping the elongation in your back muscles and the openness in your shoulder girdle.

3. Begin by turning your knees out to the sides and slide your arms even farther back under your thighs.

4. Bring your feet as close together as possible.

5. Rotate your shoulders downward and elongate the joints so that your hands reach up around the lower portion of your back.( you can hold a towel if they don’t reach)

6. This is a great place to have a teacher help assist with this pose to help you go to your deepest space. As you can see in the photo, I am in a Mysore class waiting on assistance to move further.

suptakurmasana

7. Once your hands are interlocked, cross your right leg over the left in front of your head, or bring them as close together as possible.

8. If you feel pressure in your knees at any time please back off.

9. Having both legs behind your head increases the upward flow of energy along the spine and demands openness in your pelvis and hip points.

10. After 5 breaths holding, inhale to lift off the ground, keeping your legs crossed behind your head.

11. Release your feet, coming into Tittibhasana or Firefly.

12. Exhale as you take your legs to Bakasana.

13. Exhale as you jump back to Chaturanga Dandasana.

Benefits:

Opens the hips and the energy channels around the hips

Strengthens the shoulders

Improves digestion

Eases depression, anxiety, and anger

Builds endurance.

Buying Organic & Local Does it Really Matter?

The beauty of buying organic local fruits and vegetables ensures freshness, sustainability and supports smaller family farms. In addition, the quality and taste of the produce is amazing, it is also healthier because they don’t require long distances for transportation. According to Dr. Alejandro Junger, “The time has come when we are waking up to an alarming truth. We are polluting ourselves with the very chemicals we invented to improve our lives. ” The fact of the matter is that conventionally grown produce is swarming with pesticides, herbicides, and GMOs. The roots of these plants absorb chemicals into the cell walls of the plant itself, so guess what? washing isn’t enough. In this way, buying organic will pay off in the long run. Take the next step, and support local organic farmers by seeking out sustainable farms, co-ops, and farmers markets. Also, consider growing your own garden.

Learning how to eat to be healthier, means shopping at local farmers markets, and going back to the way things were done years ago. The time has come to consider how fruits and vegetables are grown and even starting your own garden. How important is it to be, “fresh” and “safe to eat” are the main reasons consumers purchase organic local produce. A big benefit of farmers markets is your ability to look the farmer in the eye and ask anything you want about how the food was grown. Ask about how to cook it, and whether it is coming in or out of season. Learn all you can about the farmer’s growing practices. Be sure and bring your own bags or maybe a cooler, it’s good for the earth too and is the hippie chic thing to do. As a bonus, you are being kind to the farmers, by not cutting into their already slim profit margins. You are also being kind to yourself because there is no way to carry a watermelon in a plastic bag. Most farmers markets are cash-only operations, and most farmers do all their daily dealings from petty cash. It takes time to change habits, and try something new, just like with anything, but when one experiences more energy, less sick days and improved well-being, it makes good sense.

Eating sustainably-grown unprocessed fresh fruits and vegetables, has a number of health benefits, including; decreased total cholesterol levels, decreased risk of cancers, improved digestion and elimination, and increased intake of important nutrients and minerals. While increasing intake of fruits and vegetables is important, there is evidence that sustainably grown fruits, vegetables, and grains are higher in nutrients. This is related to several factors, including the way in which food was grown, harvested and transported. Organic production improves soil health, which in turn improves plants’ root systems and the ability to absorb vital nutrients. Additionally, using organic fertilizers provide a wider range of micronutrients that the plant can take up through the root system. To elaborate, organically grown tomatoes have higher levels of flavonoids, and potent antioxidants found in plants. In general, all organic local fruits and vegetables have higher levels of nutrients, such as vitamin C, antioxidants, and phytonutrients.

Fruits and vegetables that are in-season, harvested closer to peak ripeness, and transported in a shorter distance retains more nutrients and tastes much better. Industrially produced fruits and vegetables are frequently picked unripe, then artificially ripened, which decreases vitamin C content, other nutrients, ecofriendly and is noticeably different. It’s true it really matters how fruits and vegetables are grown. The proof is in the taste. Organic fruits and vegetables taste better. It’s not my opinion; it’s science. Eating at home and preparing fresh fruits and vegetables for you and your family is healthy and easier because less time is needed to prepare foods when they are fresh. Food is a source of fun for most people, and so is shopping local and organic, as well as consuming and feeling a sense of well-being.

The Environmental Working Group, (EWG), guide is a great tool for reference when it comes to targeting the fruits and vegetables with pesticides of special concern. The shoppers guide named it the dirty dozen, and they are; Apples, Celery, Cherries, Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Grapes, Hot Peppers, Nectarines (Imported), Peaches, Potatoes, Spinach, Strawberries. Additionally, Collards and Kale, Summer Squash, Sweet Bell Peppers and Zucchini, are rife with pesticides and herbicides so make sure and buy these organic when possible. On the flip side of the coin, the guide named several you don’t have to be so concerned with, the clean fifteen, and they are: asparagus, avocado, cabbage, cantaloupe, corn, eggplant, grapefruit, kiwi, mangos, mushrooms, onions, papayas, pineapples, sweet peas (frozen), sweet potatoes.

Everything around us is energy. Food is no different. Have you ever noticed how your surrounding’s effect your mood, and outlook? You can make healthier food choices and invest in your health, not only will you notice physical changes, but it boosts your energy level, improves your outlook and reduces health issues. The bonus with buying local foods are many; vegetables taste more vibrant, farm fresh eggs have a brighter egg yolk (more nutrients), grass fed meats are nitrate & antibiotic free. Eating healthy is a lifestyle because it takes time and intention to shop and prepare meals yourself. Who knew healthy eating could be easy & taste delicious? Did you know that fresher foods are more nutrient rich and vitamin fortified? Healthy eating is about raising your vibration or life force energy. When you change your eating habits you start to feel better and have more energy throughout the day too. These elements are responsible for the nourishment of your mind, body and spirit.

I have coordinated a Farmers Market Co-op in my neighborhood for over eighteen years. It is a great way to keep a seasonal variety of fruits and vegetables on hand. It ensures high quality whole foods and keeps the prices down. This time of year, when the heat is unavoidable, fruits and vegetables can help keep you hydrated. To mention a few; watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew melon carry a lot of water so they help keep the cells hydrated and the body balanced. Vegetables like cucumbers, eggplant, and summer squash have a lot of water content too. There’s no time better than the present to reap the benefits of healthy produce that’s in season. Our bodies are made up of 75% water, so during the 100 degree days not only will water keep us hydrated and thriving but fruits and vegetables help out too. So consider shopping one of the many farmers markets in the area. Farmer’s markets are open year round, but peak season is considered the summer time. So, stop in and pick up some local produce or purchase organic in the grocery store.

June Pose of the month 2016

   June Pose of the Month 2016

  Incline Plank Pursvottanasana

Purva – eastern side ( front side of the body)

Uttana – intense

Asana – posture

This pose is great for building strength and opening up the front side of the body.  Focus on breathing into the heart center.  Feeling a sense of freedom and openness and breath deeply so its audible.

Let’s Practice:

  1. Start in Staff pose and place the hands on the floor behind the waist a few inches 
  2. lift the legs and  torso entirely off the floor and press the soles of the feet into the floor
  3. lowering the head back and making the body firm and hold while inhaling and exhaling
  4. release and sit for a rest and try it again

Benefits:

  • Purifies and strengthens the heart, spinal column, and waist
  • Activates chakras 1,2,3,4,5 and 6

Contraindications:

  • Wrist problems 
  • Shoulder problems
  • Neck pain

Variations:

One leg bent at the knee, the other leg extended straight out.

April Pose of the Month 2016

                                                                 April Pose of the Month 2016                                                                  

                                                                        Pincha Mayurasana
                                                                           Forearm Balance

If your wondering where to begin for this pose ? building strength and flexibility in the shoulders is a must, finding a moment to turn the world upside, changing your center of gravity, and breathing into a sense of light heartedness are all a important. Remember in asana, as in the many aspects of life, laying the proper groundwork is crucial to the quality and success of the outcome.

Let’s Practice:

1. Begin in Dolphin
2. Walk your feet in toward your elbows as much as you can without collapsing into your shoulders.
3. Keep your shoulders above your elbows and lift your dominant leg straight up in the air.
4. Bend your other knee and push upward to stack your hips over your shoulders.
5. Bring both legs up together as you extend them straight up.
6. Keep your gaze slightly forward (toward the floor) to protect your neck.
7. Slow and controlled come down or continue on into scorpion.

For Scorpion
8. From Forearm balance soften your chest muscles and shift your upper chest forward through the gateway of your arms as you simultaneously bend both of your knees.
9. Keep your knees hip width apart and the insides of your feet touching.
10. Extend your gaze and lift your chin as you lower your feet by engaging your hamstrings to bend your knees further.
11. Balance the extension of your chest with the bend in your knees to help you maintain your balance.
12. Slow and controlled come down and rest in child’s pose.

If your practicing forearm balance for the first time it is best to be at the wall. So have fun and be patient, focus and have courage in your self to master this pose. Working with a yoga practitioner is a great way to enhance your practice too.

Benefits:
Strengthens the shoulders
Brings circulation to the face, neck, and brain
Energizes and increases stamina
Energizes All Chakras

Contraindications:
Contraindications for those with neck or shoulder pain, high blood pressure and heart disease.

March Pose of the Month 2016

March Pose of the Month 2016                                                                   

Salabhasana ~ Locust Pose
                                                                     Salabha=locust
                                                                       Asana=pose

This is a pose, great for introducing backbends, opening the chest, shoulders, and throat. Some people look at Salabhasana (Locust Pose) and say it resembles a locust at rest, but it’s a very active pose. Just coming up into Salabhasana requires good energy, being light, free, and adaptable. For yogis, the effort of lifting off the ground and staying there for even a few moments is intense, requiring focus, mindfulness, and ideally leaves you feeling contemplative, yet alert.

As one of the first backbends that yoga students learn, Locust Pose can serve as a blueprint for finding good alignment in other backbends such as Dhanurasana (Bow Pose), Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward-Facing Dog Pose), and Ustrasana (Camel Pose). Locust Pose strengthens the back and abdominal muscles, opens the chest, and cultivates mindfulness as the body and mind become alert. After backbends the spine should be released in a pose like paschimottanasana, seated forward bend pose.

Benefits:

1. Increase mobility of spine
We spend the majority of our day bending forward in one way or another – sitting, driving, texting, picking things up. Our spines are meant to be mobile. By practicing backbends, we can improve flexibility and balance the mobility of the spine.

2. Improves posture
When we bring awareness to our spine, we start to bring our body into alignment. As a result, we start to stand taller, lengthen the spine, in which improves our posture. And better posture can help to alleviate aches, spasms and back pain.

3. Opens the heart
When we feel vulnerable, our tendency is to curl inwards, to protect ourselves. Our shoulders round forward and we begin to slouch, so the flip side is to catch this and break the habit.
Backbends aren’t called heart openers for nothing. In a backbend, you are literally stretching the front of your chest and opening your heart, to receptivity, better communication, ease and good breathing. I know that it sounds a bit interesting but it literally makes me feel more open and receptive to emotions, circumstances, healing and being present. In backbends, we stimulate the heart chakra. This is one of the biggest benefits of practicing backbends for me.

Contraindications :

Headaches
High blood pressure

February Pose of the Month 2016

February Pose of the month 2016

Spinal Balance

This pose develops awareness, heat and stability because it is challenging to balance. Many students come to yoga because they are seeking strength, balance, flexibility, stress relief, etc.
My hope is that you will practice yoga in a way that brings healing, transformation, lightness & fun to your mat.

If you are experiencing any discomfort please modify or try this when you feel ready and intent. Spinal balance is challenging so breath, while your connecting within. This pose will help you prepare for an amazing practice because it takes you within, reconnects you with your gut instincts. Feel ~ Breathe ~ Practice

Benefits:
Stabilizes the spine and pelvis
Strengthens the low back & abdominal muscles
Engages uddiyana bandha & mula bandha
Tones determination

Contraindications:
Those with back, neck, shoulder, wrist, elbow, knee or shoulder pain should modify

January Pose of the Month 2016

January Pose of the Month 2016

Extended Side-Angle Pose
Utthita Parsvakonasana
Utthita = Extended
Parsva = Side, Lateral
Kona = Angle
Asana = Pose

This pose is accessable to students of all levels. It can be challenging as a new student and mentally challenging for the seasoned practitioner. As always, do what feels best to your body and go with it. Try some of the variations this pose has to offer as you breathe and open up your body.

Let’s Practice:

1. Begin in Warrior II. Extend your entire right side over your forward leg as you place your right forearm on the thigh. ( remember to drop your ribs down, toward the front thigh) this helps you feel the openness of the pose.
2. Reach up with your left arm and rotate your palm forward.
3. Set your gaze up to the sky referred to as your urvdhva drishti.

IMG 0166
4. Core Variations – simply extend the lower arm out in front, breathe deep and hold the pose to tone and sculpt your obliques.

IMG 0167
5. Bound Variations – Take your right arm underneath your right thigh to clasp your left hand or wrist. ( modified ~ start with a half bind or use a strap).
6. Lean back and gently lengthen your left arm toward your tailbone and back.
Revolve the chest open toward the ceiling. The drishti is up to the sky.

IMG 0168
7. Breathe here for 5- 10 deep breaths, then repeat on the other side.

Benefits:

Creates flexibility in the hip joints
Improves balance
Stretches the inner thighs
Strengthens the leg muscles
Opens the chest and shoulders
Energizes the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Chakras

Contraindications:
Those with knee, hip, or back pain should begin with modifications.

January Pose of the Month 2016

January Pose of the Month 2016

Extended Side-Angle Pose
Utthita Parsvakonasana
Utthita = Extended
Parsva = Side, Lateral
Kona = Angle
Asana = Pose

This pose is accessable to students of all levels. It can be challenging as a new student and mentally challenging for the seasoned practitioner. As always, do what feels best to your body and go with it. Try some of the variations this pose has to offer as you breathe and open up your body.

Let’s Practice:

1. Begin in Warrior II. Extend your entire right side over your forward leg as you place your right forearm on the thigh. ( remember to drop your ribs down, toward the front thigh) this helps you feel the openness of the pose.
2. Reach up with your left arm and rotate your palm forward.
3. Set your gaze up to the sky referred to as your urvdhva drishti.

IMG 0166
4. Core Variations – simply extend the lower arm out in front, breathe deep and hold the pose to tone and sculpt your obliques.

IMG 0167
5. Bound Variations – Take your right arm underneath your right thigh to clasp your left hand or wrist. ( modified ~ start with a half bind or use a strap).
6. Lean back and gently lengthen your left arm toward your tailbone and back.
Revolve the chest open toward the ceiling. The drishti is up to the sky.

IMG 0168
7. Breathe here for 5- 10 deep breaths, then repeat on the other side.

Benefits:

Creates flexibility in the hip joints
Improves balance
Stretches the inner thighs
Strengthens the leg muscles
Opens the chest and shoulders
Energizes the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Chakras

Contraindications:
Those with knee, hip, or back pain should begin with modifications.

December Pose of the Month 2015

December Pose of the Month 2015

Half Moon Balance

Ardha = Half

Chandra = Moon

Combining Balance and Strength, this pose has a flare of cool radiance of the moon in the midst of the heat of active standing postures.

IMG 0165

It is not how  far you move into a pose but how deeply you feel the pose that you are in ~Anodea Judith

 

Let’s Practice:

1.  Start in Mountain Tadasana Pose.  Step your feet about 3 1/2 ft apart.  Take your legs into Extended Triangle pose and lift your arms to the side.

2.  Starting on the left side, (the side your heart is on)  bend slightly in your left knee and place your fingers on the floor just beyond and to the side of your toes.

3.  Inhale and exhale as you move your torso up, out and over your foot.

4.  Straighten your left leg and lift your right leg so it is horizontal to the floor.

5.  Think of the back leg as the source of stability – your anchor – in the pose.  This will allow you to rotate your trunk upward and open up more.

6.  Continue to breathe normally  and hold the pose for several breaths.

7.  Come out of the pose to Mountain Pose Tadasana and repeat to the other side.

Benefits:

Improves balance 

Stretches the hamstring muscles 

Increases flexibility in the hip joints

Strengthens your front thigh muscles

Stretches out your back

Builds confidence

Energizes Chakras 1,2,3 and 6

Contraindications:

Use modifications until enough strength and balance have been developed to keep proper alighnment.